Wimer ranch owner faces trending cougar attacks

KTVL / Jennevieve Fong

Wimer rancher Tom MacCrae has a lot animals roaming around his property. There are herds of sheep and cows, but now there's also a cougar.

"I think it was something that hearing stories about wasn't necessarily something to get us concerned, but once it started happening to us it was a little different," MacCrae said.

His main concern is the safety of his family and animals. MacCrae said there have been 20 confirmed kills within a mile of his house, with three of those being his own sheep.

MacCrae has been working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to solve the problem.

"It's definitely something they acknowledge is getting worse as the population of the cats is increasing," MacCrae said. "As well as, all the fires we've had every summer locally. It's shrinking down their habitat and pushing them closer and closer into people's houses."

However, the traps ODFW have laid out have not been effective.

"Seems like this cougar has gotten smart enough to either avoid the traps all together or if it does get trapped, it can evade them and get out of the trap," MacCrae said.

In the meantime, MacCrae said he's been acting defensively by getting better lighting, adding more fencing, and locking up his sheep at night.

"Almost like clockwork, if we haven't been able to lock them up because maybe we're out for the day, those are the nights where the kills seem to happen."

While others want to protect the cougar, MacCrae said it's better to be safe then sorry.

"It's only a matter of time until a human can get attacked," MacCrae said. "We're trying to stop that from happening by taking it before it has the opportunity."

ODFW told MacCrae the next step would be to use hounds to help them track the animal to find out it's location and where it's living. MacCrae said these animals have a 20 to 30 miles radius to their territories, so it could even be hiding in another town entirely.

"We're still in that process," MacCrae said. "We haven’t had that happen yet, but hopefully we get some results either with the trapping or tracking."

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